Brighton is home to one of the most popular viewing spots for starling murmurations in the UK. Although experts don’t know for sure what causes this amazing spectacle, RSPB thinks starlings might gather for safety reasons, as birds of prey find it difficult to target such a large flock.
Roosts in the autumn can begin to form as early as September time, extending throughout the season until November in some places. Now is the perfect time to venture down to Brighton Seafront and witness the incredible performances from the starlings. Brighton Journal has selected some photographs that best capture the wonderful phenomenon that visits our city.
This natural phenomenon derives from three main factors of flocking behaviour – alignment, cohesion, and separation – creating a breathtaking, complex movement in the sky. Hehaden’s evening image depicts the starlings performing most likely before they settle to roost for the night.
Starlings like to hide away from bitter winds and rain for the autumn period, mostly in woodlands or abandoned buildings, which is why the derelict West Pier is a popular roosting place. This astounding photograph by Ben Nazarko captures the formation in the shape of a silhouette of a bird.
As the season develops, more and more starlings will gather, sometimes totalling up to 100,000 in some areas according to the RSPB. This lovely image by Colette Chitty shows us the mass scale of starlings that gather in one murmuration.
Evening time is when you’ll have the most luck spectating these murmurations. James Brown has taken this wonderful photograph of the flock moulding into a peculiar shape.
The starling population has sadly fallen by 80 per cent in recent years, now featuring on the UK list of critical bird species. Years ago, huge starling flocks could be seen over UK cities, although they now prefer rural areas. Muffinn’s picture shows the flock battling harsh weather on the city’s seafront.
Thank you to the photographers featured in this article, including the ‘Brighton Skies’ Facebook group and its members for allowing us to use some of their photographs.